November Curse or Something Worse? Truth be told it’s Wenger and Bould!

Wenger and Bould

Wenger and Bould

I have been reading a few scribes player ratings for last night’s match and there is a great deal of similarity in the best and worst of what was generally regarded as another poor show when we failed to turn up. The most common reason for it is the “November Curse”.

What annoys me about that is that if you repeat something often enough, people begin to believe it. If that was to be the case, then it would be a good excuse for Wenger and his coaches to hide behind. It is an anomaly which attacks the mentality of our teams (of all levels) for which there is no explanation and therefore no means of correcting it. How convenient. The same excuse could be used for the times when we get slaughtered by Man City, United, Chelsea and Liverpool. Perhaps it is a gypsy curse? How do we counteract such paranormal activity? Well, dear reader if that is your inclination then in future I shall not leave the house during a full moon and I will wear garlic on my lapel.

In a more scientific manner, I have to say that there were similarities in our performance on Wednesday night and those of recent vintage ( PSG, Man Utd. ).

The general impression was that we passed the ball around nicely until we were challenged, then we looked for sideways or backward passes to maintain possession. Meanwhile Foster in goal was painting his fingernails and admiring his face in the mirror to while away the time. In other words we were completely ineffective. Our forwards carried no threat and our midfield was without any sort of plan, either to resist their advances, or to provide support to our attack. The back four suffered from the same malaise as the first team. Both full backs came of second best in their challenges on their wingers. In Jenkinson’s case, in a two-horse race he came 4th every time. Any winger or wing-back with pace and mobility can twist him inside out.

Holding and Gabriel started promisingly and Holding is definitely a star in the making, but they were too far apart to form a united obstacle to their threat down the centre. Whether or not their performance affected Martinez I don`t know, but he was decidedly hesitant and slow to react to threats from their forwards. We scrambled the ball away on several occasions when he should have gathered the ball with better positioning and anticipation.

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I won`t analyse every players performance because I believe that the poor performance in general lies squarely at the feet of Wenger and Steve Bould. I don`t know how much responsibility Bould has for tactics in the defence and midfield but when you consider that he was already a well-established Centre-back who played with the best defenders in Europe before Wenger arrived, he shows no perceivable ability to coach a discipline or a tactical plan into players who should be skilled professionals and well able to understand instructions. Time after time he sits impassively in the dugout, chewing gum beside Wenger and it is a rare event when I see him conversing with him when we are under the cosh. It is like watching Napoleon at Waterloo, when the tide has turned against him and his generals sit motionless while the chaos continues. Wenger is in the same situation. If he is too arrogant to listen to wise advice, then it is his own fault, and as always happens, his lack of tactical nous is seized upon by more talented adversaries who simply pick his team apart by better plans and better tactics to employ them.

Is Bould allowed to coach the defence?

Is Bould allowed to coach the defence?

The failures of our first team were all on display last night. It was easy to perceive the two ranks of four across the midfield and the back but it was just as easy to see that they were not working as a combined unit. Instead, individual players were repeatedly dragged out of position leaving gaps such as the one which Claisie punished with his canon ball of a shot. Bertrand was also able to pick a gap to fire in his goal. In reply, the Ox had a gilt edged chance to score but he skied it over the bar from 5 yards. Apart from that, I don`t think Foster had a shot to save.

No plan and a team with mo shots on target again

No plan and a team with mo shots on target again

It cannot be coincidence that the faults of the first team are replicated in the reserves. It is easy to boo the players off the pitch as some people did last night, but although it could be said that they did not turn up, I would suggest that they did. Unfortunately they had been provided with no plan or no instructions from the coaching staff which would have given them something to work at.  I don`t need to describe what those tactics should have been. There are many coaches who know more about that than I do, but I see evidence from clubs who on paper are much inferior to us, yet still manage to frustrate our tippy tappy football with well-schooled tactics to absorb our attack and break through the gaps left behind.

Is it not time that these issues were properly addressed? We could spend millions on players but there will be no improvement until proper tactics are used to maximise their abilities.

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3 Responses to November Curse or Something Worse? Truth be told it’s Wenger and Bould!

  1. Rich S Ade-Alao December 2, 2016 at 9:14 am #

    Yes, I at last minute, dropped plan to watch live transmission at a viewing centre. Late when I looked at the result, and saw those who played, I was convinced it was a game prepared to lose.
    Only player in attack with enough character was Luca Perez. All attacking midfielders in the game are not providing assists currently, and none of them apart Iwobi, who dropped form, can run at defence and make things happen. THEN, in that situation what was their training session and instructions should be, playing Southampton, intensity. Well, I read they started like players having mild hangover from buzz or something like that.
    You got it right Le Prof is to blame, simple. Always going to underestimate team and not prepare for success, or give excuses and praise-sing the threats of opponents to prepare your mind for the loss. Guess is fastly becoming the inglorious genius of all managers.

  2. Victor Thompson December 2, 2016 at 9:57 am #

    Thanks for your comment. Actually, on paper it was a fairly strong side and in fairness Southampton had as many changes as us on their team. It was only when Xhaka was introduced that some constructive passes were made.

    Ramsey is badly out of form and causes more breakdowns in attack than anyone else. Perez was drifting in and out of the Centre forward position and Adelaide was too immature both in physique and purpose. Elneny is at the point where the type of football we play now ( sideways and backwards ) has infected his game and possibly destroyed it. He was much more effective when he first arrived.

    The glaring weakness ( as I have said ) is in our defence. We must have the worst coaches in the league. We have the best right back and centre Back in the league and Mustafi is not bad. Monreal is usually reliable but lack of positional sense is making him vulnerable at present. He seems to adopt a position between the edge of the penalty box and the left flank instead of blocking the winger or wing back leaving wide spaces which we have suffered from in recent games. These are not isolated incidents. They are common occurrences and other managers set their teams up to exploit them.

    Inviting teams onto us is a good tactic and it should work with the speed we have in Walcott and Sanchez but we are more often than not, pinned in our last third by teams who press our defence. Without Cazorla, we have no link with Ozil or the two speed merchants mentioned. We concentrate on keeping the ball without progressing it. Clearly, we have good players who cost a lot of money but we have no plan or no discernible tactics to aim at. We end up with players trying to do it all themselves. How often have we seen Ozil, Sanchez or Walcott with the ball but with nobody to pass to? There are no runners on the team as Leicester had last year in support of Vardy for instance or LIverpool this year who defend and attack in waves.

    I believe that we have better players than Liverpool, Chelsea or Man City but we are woefully weak in coaching them.

  3. DEW December 2, 2016 at 11:49 am #

    I think November curse is right. Arsenal team is made to work at certain level of focus and fitness, and at this month in the season (November) the team focus and fitness level will likely drop and so does the result. It is possible to address this issue by appropriately introducing fresh leg players and giving players breather. But for Wenger team all change is always a huge gamble (with regard to the platform), and it is difficult to assess the tactics under such circumstance. Honestly, I don’t blame him for the team selection, because the situation dictates that many of starting XI players needs break ahead of many tough fixtures. I don’t also blame him for the result, because this is his common weakness for a long time that you simply have to embrace it.

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